Senatorial choices

IN THIS election, we have several candidates for the Senate who come from Occidental Negros. I had mentioned Raffy Alunan and Neri Colmenares who are truly Negrosanons. Others, like Mar Roxas and Grace Poe trace their lineage from here through their parents. There is Gary Alejano that I had not written about because I don’t know him or his lineage and I never met him. Anyway, he has media handlers here so he is not shortchanged in terms of publicity. 

I wrote about Alunan without meeting him because he was excluded by the group that tended to show that they speak for the sugar industry. Sadly, they did not include Alunan although more than anyone in the list of candidates that Tatak Kalamay endorsed, Alunan has the greater claim for linkage in industry. That being the case, he should have been included. But why was he not?

Tatak Kalamay justified its choice that the seven had helped the industry and had promised to come to its aid when the need arises.

To a certain extent we should thank Tatak Kalamay. Because of their exclusion of Alunan and the concern raised in this column in relation to this issue, it created curiosity and then sympathy for Alunan. Feedbacks show that many planters asked who decided on the exclusion of a real son of Negros and a scion of the leading clan in the industry.

Even non-planters were surprised but glad that this matter came out. Now they will vote for Alunan not only because he is a planter and a province mate but more so because he is highly qualified, not for dancing, singing and making himself a clown but because of his competence for the Senate.

There are only two persons from this province who served two cabinet posts – Alfredo Montelibano, Sr. and Raffy Alunan. Alunan served at the Department of the Interior and Local Government and the Department of Tourism. His experiences in these departments are vital in drafting of legislations. I learned only this week that he holds a reserve army rank of Major General as the commander of the First Standby Division.

Of course, his top positions in several large corporations, including international companies are added bonuses to his wealth of information. He had not been speaking about his qualifications but his classmates in the University of St. La Salle have come to his aid by telling me about him.

He is not as “shy” that I wrote about but rather described by a classmate as “a regular guy” who is great in any conversation. I can understand that considering his breeding, education, experience in public service and management in the corporate world and contacts in the international scene.

I learned that President Duterte who included him among his choices for the Senate, offered him the post of DILG but he preferred to run for the Senate where he will best serve the country and the administration with progressive legislation. Being in the Cabinet is a surefire way of getting into the government, after all he had been there, but the Senate is a place where one makes a real mark.

I don’t know his legislative agenda, but usually experience in and outside government is the best source of ideas for the drafting of laws. With his credentials, he is in the best position to do so.

I was informed several planters associations disassociated from the Tatak Kalamay list and while they will pick up some in the list, they will definitely include Alunan. That is a wise decision.

The most important is that now industry leaders and down the line are supporting him. I hope he makes it because now is the opportunity for a highly qualified senator from Negros.

We had been complaining that for over half a century Occidental Negros never had a senator. They point to the great economic strides in other provinces where they had a senator assisting their congressmen get a bigger share of the country’s opportunities.

While we complain our politicians are also unable to unite enough to rally behind one. We always rely on the senators with family roots here, and they did help, the best we can do.

Alunan and Colmenares are our best bets. Let’s not lose this “one more chance”. One or two more in the ballot can make a lot of difference.